Enigmida

By Matthew Stein

Enigmida: A Few of My Favorite Games... (Part 1)

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Enigmida
Enigmida: A Few of My Favorite Games... (Part 1)
By Matthew Stein • Issue #10 • View online
In addition to being a puzzle designer, I’m also an avid escape room player. Over the past year, I’ve played 120+ remote escape rooms, 80+ of which I’ve reviewed for Room Escape Artist’s Hivemind. You can find my full archive of reviews here.
I get asked quite frequently for escape room recommendations, so without further ado, here’s Part 1 of my personal remote escape room recommendation guide!
Through experiencing a broad survey of the remote escape room scene, I can say that the games which stand out most are the ones which create magical moments that wouldn’t be possible in an in-person escape room. So much is possible in this medium, and we’re still only getting started.
Disclaimer: This guide is based off the games I’ve personally played through 4/3/2021. I’ve played many but not all of the top games currently available, and amazing new experiences are released regularly. These are all unsponsored endorsements, though I was provided with complimentary plays of some games as a REA Hivemind reviewer.
Puzzle of the Week
Start with THE ANSWER. Re-split and add two letters to get a Greek and a curse. Look oddly for the answer. No spoilers!

Audio Escape Experiences
How does it work?
An actor facilitating the game aurally guides your team into a world of collective imagination, in a style akin to RPG gameplay. The facilitator describes your surroundings, often with some light visual aids, and you describe what actions you’d like to take.
I love how this format is completely untethered from the practicalities of physical implementation. In an instant, you can be anyone and go anywhere, interact with fantastical characters, try things which might be dangerous or impossible in a physical environment.
Some of my favorite creators:
  • Trapped Puzzle Rooms / Audio Escape Adventures - I’ve adored all of Trapped’s 8 audio games. Featuring top-notch voice acting, scintillating writing, and gorgeous artwork, these games are the full package. Gain super powers in Super Squad (with a 3 or 5-player team) or play Spirit Train for a magical 2-hour Studio Ghibli-inspired epic adventure.
  • Agent Venture - Part immersive audio escape game, part choose-your-own adventure, and part asymmetrical information sharing extravaganza, the Agent Venture trilogy is uniquely exhilarating. Gather your most skilled 5-player team—these games are quite the challenge!
  • Squonkland - These Escape This Podcast-inspired games by Scott Weiss are adorable and filled with clever puzzle hunt-y puzzles. Quest for the Purple Unicorn is my favorite, and Scott will be livestreaming it for an all-star team (including NEIL PATRICK HARRIS!) this Sunday 4/4 at 8PM ET.
Our post-game team photo from Omescape's "Pursuit of Assassin Artist" in Sept 2020
Our post-game team photo from Omescape's "Pursuit of Assassin Artist" in Sept 2020
Live Avatar Escape Rooms
How does it work?
This style of gameplay really took shape at the start of the pandemic, though there were a few remote avatar escape rooms before then. Basically, your team remotely experiences a physical escape room through an avatar - someone who is physically in the room, acting as your eyes and hands over a live video feed. In many games, there’s an inventory system which gives you close-up stills of important items and possibly also some 360 views of the room(s). Most games are existing real-life escape rooms which have been adapted to be playable in this format, though some have been designed and built specifically for remote play.
Some of my favorite creators:
  • Emergency Exit - Play The Exorcist and The Beast back-to-back, in that order, as the story continues between the two. These games stand out for their clever camera trickery and two memorable avatar characters.
  • Locurio - The remote Vanishing Act is one of the most refined and elegant avatar adaptations I’ve played. Some intro cinematic magic blew my mind, and I’m in love with Locurio’s puzzle design aesthetic.
  • Omescape - Pursuit of Assassin Artist features a full multi-room set designed for this remote exclusive. Brilliantly utilizing a time loop mechanic, this game makes notable use of multiple actors and unexpected twists.
  • Escape Room Melbourne - Isolation embodies the kind of thoughtful, well-researched puzzle-narrative integration I want to see more of in escape rooms. It’s remote-only, and you’ll get to interact with a delightful human being.
  • Improbable Escapes - Improbable Escapes’ games are impeccably designed, from their magical sets to their animated intro videos. I’ve played Seven Dwarves, Hot Chocolate Incident (remote-only), and Neverland, and all have been a blast. If you’re playing with kids, these are the games for you.
  • Agent November - Virtual X-Caper is hilarious and oh so fun. It thrives in its biggest strength—a highly charismatic actor/creator—without the need for an overly elaborate set or fancy tech. I’m eagerly awaiting the release of Agent November’s new game, Mind Heist.
  • Mystery Mansion Regina - The online offerings from Mystery Mansion Regina, an escape room company in the middle of nowhere in Canada, are scrappy, creative, and narrative-driven. I especially enjoyed Night Terrors and D'Vile’s Curio Shoppe.
Note: Some games on this list include occult or mature content. Check content warnings on each company’s website before booking.
April Fools!
Solution to the previous puzzle
Evoovg -> enoovg -> enoov (in ROT13)
Congrats to everyone who submitted a correct answer: Sean M., Yossi, Conor Durkin, Wassamatta_u, Tommy, Fro , Sean McB, RoomEscapeArtist.com, Mark W, Margo Gray, Elliot & Griffin & Lucy T, Michael Andersen, Jennifer Love, Drew W, River Sol, LN, Gina Qin, Joe, Ryan Kannegiesser, Patrick Geer, Melinda, Hannah, Adam Sequoyah, Zach Z, and Kevin S.
Cryptically yours,
Matthew
Did you enjoy this issue?
Matthew Stein

Enigmida is an Oakland, CA-based puzzle design studio. We create puzzle hunts, escape rooms, and ARGs that guide participants to connect through play and to find wonder in the mundane through aha-driven discovery.

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